Former Servicewoman Claims Against Army for Medical Negligence

Author:
Sarah Holdsworth
Senior Associate Solicitor, Medical Negligence Claims
Date:
29/10/2021

We helped a woman who was medically discharged from the Army claim compensation, after a surgeon’s medical recommendations had been ignored many years earlier.

Gemma joined the Army in 1999 but soon after enlisting she started experiencing pain in her shins after exercise, such as marching and running in military boots. Despite wearing custom-made insoles and changing her activities, the symptoms persisted and got progressively worse.

So in 2002 she was referred by her Army medical officer to a consultant orthopaedic and sports injury surgeon who diagnosed her with exertional compartment syndrome and recommended further tests and an operation.

Gemma wasn’t told that she needed surgery and the Army took no steps to fund or carry out the tests that had been recommended. She was then referred to an Army consultant orthopaedic surgeon, who wasn’t convinced that she was suffering from compartment syndrome.

Worsening Condition Ends Her Career

Over the next few years her symptoms continued and she underwent various scans, tests and treatments, including physiotherapy and acupuncture.

Nevertheless, her mobility got worse and she started suffering with chronic pain, which meant she couldn’t run and could only drive short distances.

Gemma was prescribed medication but this led to severe side-effects including depression.

Eventually, she was assessed by a medical board in 2013, which recorded that she was suffering from a bilateral anterior compartment syndrome.

Gemma was then medically discharged from the Army.

How We Helped Gemma

Gemma believed that if the recommendations made by the surgeon back in 2002 had been actioned, her condition could have been properly diagnosed and treated.

She could then have avoided the chronic lower limb pain she was experiencing and wouldn’t have been medically discharged from the Army.

Gemma could have served in the Army for many more years, had the negligence not happened, and pursued promotion opportunities.

She was deeply frustrated and disappointed to have lost that career and the lifestyle that came with it as she’d enjoyed the challenging and physical working environment, the teamwork and the camaraderie it offered, as well as the chance to serve her country.

After speaking with Gemma about her situation I agreed that she had a strong case for compensation and took on her case on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Nevertheless, the case came with lots of challenges. The Army continued to dispute that Gemma was suffering from compartment syndrome and denied that the surgeon’s recommendations for further tests and surgery should have been acted upon. This meant the only way to settle the claim would be in Court.

The Outcome

Despite the Army denying fault we continued to push for a settlement and a compensation package was agreed at a Joint Settlement Meeting before the case went to Court.

Gemma was awarded £250,000 in compensation, an amount that reflected the wide-ranging effects of the negligence on her life. For example, she had missed out on earning opportunities and lost a number of service benefits.

The settlement also means she can access the support she needs in future, including a pain management programme that could help to ease her symptoms and make a big difference to her quality of life.

Gemma was very happy with the outcome after what she described as a “very long hard battle”, and has since opened her own business and started an Open University degree course. We wish her well for the future.

Gemma said:

“The legal team at Simpson Millar are truly amazing. My Solicitor Sarah Holdsworth guided me through the whole process and was by my side every step of the way. They supported me where no one else would. I tried contacting so many law firms with no joy, I genuinely was on the verge of giving up when they took my case. My family and I cannot thank them enough.”

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